Don’t Neglect The Media –Zabzugu MP

the National Democratic Congress (NDC) wants to regain political power in 2020 and beyond, it must include in its strategies the plan to build and support media outlets that give it positive coverage, Alhaji Umar Alhassan, Member of Parliament for Zabzugu, has said.

According to the NDC MP, if the presidential race is anything more than a chronicle of ideas, issues of national interest and development of the people at the grassroots level, then the opposition party must look beyond its communicators.

The party, he said, must extend its support to journalists or media houses that could articulate its views positively in order to reach to the masses.

“It is very clear, we, the NDC, do not have our own media that we can say, yes they are there with us day and night to disseminate our ideologies, our developmental agenda for the nation. We do not have it.”

“What we have for now are individual journalists who sympathized with us. This is even so because of the rapport with some of them, so sometimes they give us prominence. But beyond that, we have none as our own,” Hon Umar told The Republic exclusively in an Interview last weekend.

He stated that, in very democratic country, political parties resource their media sympathizers to articulate their issues, whether in government or in opposition, and by so doing, the masses get to understand which political ideology they could easily be identified or they are more comfortable.

The media, he added, remain the mouthpiece between the electorate and the politicians that seek power, but, over the years, his party appeared to have underrated the effect of media in every given election.

In his view, the NDC has failed to identify any media house or journalists and offer some kind of support that they could survive while disseminating the party’s views.

Asked what kind of support political parties could give to their sympathetic media, Hon. Umar said there are so many ways, but the most common and best way is channelling adverts and also being subscribers in the case of newspapers.

“I am not saying the party should take money and give to journalists or media houses, but they could be supported through advertisement by encouraging business partners to advertise or give equal opportunity for state agencies or government adverts when the party is in power,” the Zabzugu MP explained.

Lack of information, he noted, could make the electorate desperate, restless and easy to manipulate, and stressed on the need for NDC “to pay an equal attention to its supportive media to perform their essential role and the right of the public to have access to information about the party.”

When reminded that the NDC had won several elections over the years without the media’s active support or involvement, the Zabzugu MP said the trend is changing and that the party leadership must rise up beyond that analogy.

“Yes, I agree that NDC has won several elections without the active role of the media, but today the trend is changing, the system has changed. For instance, during Rawlings time, what the electorate needs was to just see Rawlings in their town and they will vote him. Kufuor time, it was not like that, the electorate knows NPP and NDC and Kufuor has to work hard.”

“After Kufuor, under Mills and Mahama, you can see that the eras are not the same, even Mills had to do door-to-door with the media backing up. What NDC used to win elections in 1996, 2008 and 2012 cannot be used today. Why, because the social media has penetrated everywhere and anything put out there the electorate have it.”

“So, what I am advocating now is that, we can support the media that we think can give us much coverage to go into the villages with their reporters, let them listen to their concerns, report on them and also extend what the NDC ideologies are, because negative propaganda goes far too, so we have to support and strengthen our media capacity to roam in every district, it will help,” Hon. Umar argued.

In every democratic country, politicians are always quick to blame the media when a news story doesn’t put them in a favorable light. But the same politicians use media to win elections by getting the exposure they need to reach voters.

Rallies are designed to show the voters’ spontaneous excitement for a candidate, but sometimes the crowds are even made up of campaign workers, petty hawkers and volunteers so that the TV cameras don’t capture an empty room.

The sure-fire way for a candidate to get media coverage is to invite reporters to a news conference for an “important statement.” That statement could be the same tired 10-point economic plan that the candidate has announced several weeks

Other political pundits say, today, a candidate can bypass broadcast and print media to reach his potential voters through social media. A Facebook page can show he has 20,000 fans, offer his entire news conference and most importantly, allow him a totally unfiltered way to speak.

For instance, former US President, Barack Obama, had a successful web strategy that helped him win the 2008 presidential campaign.

But Hon. Umar said a wise presidential or parliamentary candidate should realise that social media is a tool, but it has yet to replace the value of getting his face on the front page of the paper or on the 6:00 p.m. newscast.

He said, while the candidates may tout their “grassroots campaign” using social media to get in direct touch with voters, they know they still need the traditional media desperately to disseminate their policies and manifestos to win.

He urged the NDC not to neglect or undermine the role of the traditional media but give a supporting hand to enlarge their coverage.

Source: Felix Engsalige Nyaaba

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